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Constantino, Renato.

Dissent and Counter- methods and disclaim all part in it, pitying from
Consciousness (Quezon City: Malaya Books, the bottom of my heart the unwary that have
Inc., 1970). been deceived into taking part in it. [1]

Veneration Without Understanding


Rizal and The Revolution
In the histories of many nations, the
national revolution represents a peak of Rizal's refusal to align himself with the
achievement to which the minds of man return revolutionary forces and his vehement
time and again in reverence and for a renewal of condemnation of the mass movement and of its
faith in freedom. For the national revolution is leaders have placed Filipinos in a dilemma. Either
invariably the one period in a nation's history the Revolution was wrong, yet we cannot disown
when the people were most united, most it, or Rizal was wrong, yet we cannot disown him
involved, and most decisively active in the fight either. By and large, we have chosen to ignore
for freedom. It is not to be wondered at, this apparent contradiction. Rizalists, especially,
therefore, that almost always the leader of that have taken the easy way out, which is to gloss
revolution becomes the principal hero of his over the matter. They have treated Rizal's
people. There is Washington for the United condemnation of the Katipunan as a skeleton in
States, Lenin for the Soviet Union, Bolivar for his closet and have been responsible for the
Latin America, Sun Yat Sen, then Mao Tse-Tung "silent treatment" on his unequivocal position
for China and Ho Chi Minh for Vietnam. The unity against the Revolution.
between the venerated mass action and the
honored single individual enhances the influence To my knowledge, there has been no
of both. extensive analysis of the question. For some
Rizalists, this aspect of Rizal has been a source of
In our case, our national hero was not the embarrassment inasmuch as they picture him as
leader of our Revolution. In fact, he repudiated the supreme symbol of our struggle for freedom.
that Revolution. In no uncertain terms he placed Other in fact [p. 126] privately agree with his
himself against Bonifacio and those Filipinos who stand as evidenced by their emphasis on the
were fighting for the country's liberty. In fact, gradualism of Rizal's teachings particularly his
when he was arrested he was on his way to Cuba insistence on the primacy of education. They
to use his med- [p. 125] ical skills in the service would probably praise Rizal's stand against the
of Spain. And in the manifesto of December 15, Revolution, if they dared. Since they do not dare
1896 which he addressed to the Filipino people, for themselves, the are also prudently silent for
he declared: Rizal's sake. Others, careless and superficial in
their approach to history and perhaps afraid to
From the very beginning, when I first stir a hornet's nest of controversy, do not think it
had notice of what was being planned, I important to dwell on this contradiction between
opposed it, fought it, and demonstrated its our Revolution and our national hero and elect to
absolute impossibility. leave well enough alone. Perhaps they do not
perceive the adverse consequences of our refusal
I did even more. When later, against my to analyze and resolve this contradiction. Yet the
advice, the movement materialized, of my own consequences are manifest in our regard for our
accord I offered my good offices, but my very Revolution and in our understanding of Rizal.
life, and even my name, to be used in whatever
way might seem best, toward stifling the The Philippine Revolution has always been
rebellion; for convinced of the ills which it would overshadowed by the omnipresent figure and the
bring, I considered myself fortunate if, at any towering reputation of Rizal. Because Rizal took
sacrifice, I could prevent such useless no part in that Revolution and in fact repudiated
misfortune…. I have written also (and I repeat it, the general regard for our Revolution is not as
my words) that reforms, to be beneficial, must high as it otherwise would be. On the other hand,
come from above, and those which comes from because we refuse to analyze the significance of
below are irregularly gained and uncertain. his repudiation, our understanding of Rizal and of
his role in our national development remains
Holding these ideas, I cannot do less superficial. This is a disservice to the event, to
than condemn, and I do condemn this uprising- the man, and to ourselves.
which dishonors us Filipinos and discredits those
that could plead our cause. I abhor its criminal
Viewed superficially, Rizal's reaction Pardo de Tavera, Legarda, and Luzuriaga, lay
toward the Revolution is unexpected, coming as it the genesis of Rizal Day…..
did from a man whose life and labors were
supposed to have been dedicated to the cause of 'In the subsequent discussion in which
his country's freedom. Had someone of lesser the rival merits of the revolutionary heroes were
stature uttered those words of condemnation, he considered, the final choice-now universally
would have been considered a traitor to the acclaimed as a wise one-was Rizal. And so was
cause. As a matter of fact, those words were history made.'
treasonous in the light of the Filipinos' struggle
against Spain. Rizal repudiated the one act which Theodore Friend in his book, Between
really synthesized our nationalist aspiration, and Two Empires, says that Taft "with other
yet we consider him a nationalist leader. Such an American colonial officials and some conservative
appraisal has dangerous implications because it Filipinos, chose him (Rizal) as a model hero over
can be used to exculpate those who actively other contestants - Aguinaldo too militant,
betrayed the Revolution and may serve to Bonifacio too radical, Mabini unregenerate." [2]
diminish the ardor of those who today may be This decision to sponsor Rizal was implemented
called upon to support another great nationalist with the passage of the following Acts of the
undertaking to complete the anti-colonial Philippine Commission: (1) Act No. 137 which
movement. organized the politico-military district of Morong
and named it the province of Rizal "in honor of
the most illustrious Filipino and the most
An American-Sponsored Hero illustrious Tagalog the islands had ever known,
" (2) Act No.243 which authorized a public
We have magnified Rizal's role to such an subscription for the erection of a monument in
extent that we have lost our sense of proportion honor or Rizal at the Luneta, and (3) Act No. 346
and relegated to a subordinate position our other [p.128] which set aside the anniversary of his
great men and the historic events in [p.127] death as a day of observance.
which they took part. Although Rizal was already
a revered figure and became more so after his This early example of American "aid" is
martyrdom, it cannot be denied that his pre- summarized by Governor W. Cameron Forbes
eminence among our heroes was partly the result who wrote in his book, The Philippine Islands:
of American sponsorship. This sponsorship took
two forms: on one hand, that of encouraging a It is eminently proper that Rizal should
Rizal cult, on the other, that of minimizing the have become the acknowledged national hero of
importance of other heroes or even of vilifying the Philippine people. The American
them. There is no question that Rizal had the administration has lent every assistance to
qualities of greatness. History cannot deny his this recognition, setting aside the anniversary
patriotism. He was a martyr to oppression, of his death to be a day of observance, placing
obscurantism and bigotry. His dramatic death his picture on the postage stamp most
captured the imagination of our people. Still, we commonly used in the islands, and on the
must accept the fact that his formal designation currency …. And throughout the islands the
as our national hero, his elevation to his present public schools tech the young Filipinos to revere
eminence so far above all our other heroes was his memory as the greatest of Filipino patriots.
abetted and encouraged by the Americans. (Underscoring supplied) [3]

The reason for the enthusiastic American


It was Governor William Howard Taft who attitude becomes clear in the following appraisal
in 1901 suggested that the Philippine of Rizal by Forbes:
Commission that the Filipinos be given a national
hero. The Free Press of December 28, 1946
Rizal never advocated
gives this account of a meeting of the Philippine
independence, nor did he advocate armed
Commission:
resistance to the government. He urged
reform from within by publicity, by public
'And now, gentlemen, you must have a education, and appeal to the public conscience.
national hero.' In these fateful words, (Underscoring supplied) [4]
addressed by then Civil Governor W. H. Taft to
the Filipino members of the civil commission,
2
belonged to the right social class -- the class that
Taft's appreciation for Rizal has much the same they were cultivating and building up for
basis, as evidenced by his calling Rizal "the leadership.
greatest Filipino, a physician, a novelist and a
poet (who) because of his struggle for a It may be argued that, faced with the
betterment of conditions under Spanish rule humiliation of a second colonization, we as a
was unjustly convicted and shot…. " people felt the need for a super-hero to bolster
the national ego and we therefore allowed
The public image that the American ourselves to be propagandized in favor of one
desired for a Filipino national hero was quite acceptable to the colonizer. Be that as it may,
clear. They favored a hero who would not run certainly it is now time for us to view Rizal with
against the grain of American colonial policy. We more rationality and with more historicity. This
must take these acts of the Americans in need not alarm anyone but the blind worshipper.
furtherance of a Rizal cult in the light of their Rizal will still occupy a good position in our
initial policies which required the passage of the national pantheon even if we discard hagiolatry
Sedition Law prohibiting the display of the Filipino and subject him to a more mature historical
flag. The heroes who advocated independence evaluation.
were therefore ignored. For to have encouraged a
movement to revere Bonifacio or Mabini would A proper understanding of our history is
not have been consistent with American colonial very important to us because it will serve to
policy. demonstrate how our present has been distorted
by a faulty knowledge of our past. By unraveling
Several factors contributed to Rizal's the past we become confronted with the present
acceptability to the [p.129] Americans as the already as [p.130] future. Such a re-evaluation
official hero of the Filipinos. In the first place, he may result in a down-grading of some heroes and
was safely dead by the time the American began even a discarding of others. It cannot spare even
their aggression. No embarrassing anti-American Rizal. The exposure of his weaknesses and
quotations could ever be attributed to him. limitations will also mean our liberation, for he
Moreover, Rizal's dramatic martyrdom had has, to a certain extent become part of the
already made him the symbol of Spanish superstructure that supports present
oppression. To focus attention on him would consciousness. That is why a critical evaluation of
serve not only to concentrate Filipino hatred Rizal cannot but lead to a revision of our
against the erstwhile oppressors, it would also understanding of history and of the role of the
blunt their feelings of animosity toward the new individual in history.
conquerors against whom there was still
organized resistance at that time. His choice was Orthodox historians have presented
a master stroke by the Americans. The honors history as a succession of exploits of eminent
bestowed on Rizal were naturally appreciated by personalities, leading many of us to regard
the Filipinos who were proud of him. history as the product of gifted individuals. This
tendency is strongly noticeable in those who have
At the same time, the attention lavished tried of late to manufacture new heroes through
on Rizal relegated other heroes to the press releases, by the creation of foundations, or
background-heroes whose revolutionary example by the proclamation of centennial celebrations.
and anti-American pronouncements might have Though such tactics may succeed for a limited
stiffened Filipino resistance to the new period, they cannot insure immortality where
conquerors. The Americans especially there exists no solid basis for it. In the case of
emphasized the fact that Rizal was a reformer, Rizal, while he was favored by colonial support
not a separatist. He could therefore not be and became good copy for propagandists, he had
invoked on the question of Philippine the qualifications to assume immortality. It must
independence. He could not be a rallying point in be admitted however, that the study of his life
the resistance against the invaders. and works has developed into a cult distorting
the role and the place of Rizal in our history.
It must also be remembered that the
Filipino members of the Philippine Commission The uncritical attitude of his cultists has
were conservative ilustrados. The Americans been greatly responsible for transforming
regarded Rizal as belonging to this class. This biographers into hagiographers. His weaknesses
was, therefore, one more point in his favor. Rizal and errors have been subtly underplayed and his
3
virtues grossly exaggerated. In this connection, development of new social relationships, and take
one might ask the question, wht would have an active part in meeting these needs. But he is
happened if Rizal had not been executed in not a hero in the sense that he could have
December of 1896? Would the course of the stopped and altered the course of events. The
Philippine Revolution have been different? This truth of this statement is demonstrated by the
poses the question of the role of the individual in fact that the Revolution broke out despite his
history. Was this historical phase of our refusal to lead it and continued despite his
libertarian struggle due to Rizal? Did the condemnation of it. Rizal served his people by
propagandists of the 19th century create the consciously articulating the unconscious course of
period or were they created by the period. events. He saw more clearly than his
contemporaries and felt with more intensity the
problems of his country, though his viewpoint
The Role of Heroes was delimited by his particular status and
upbringing. He was the first Filipino but he was
With or without these specific individuals only a limited Filipino, the ilustrado Filipino who
the social relations engendered by Spanish fought for national unity but feared the
colonialism and the subsequent economic Revolution and loved his mother country, yes, but
development of the country would have produced in his own ilustrado way.
the nationalist movement. Without Rizal there
would have developed other talents. Without Del Though we assert that the general course
Pilar another propagandist would have emerged. of history is not directed by the desires or ideas
That Rizal possessed a particular talent which of particular men, we must not [p. 132] fall into
influenced the style of the period was accidental. the error of thinking that because history can
That [p. 131] he was executed on December 30 proceed independently of individuals it can
only added more drama to the events of the proceed independently of men. The fact is that
period. If there had been no Rizal, another type history is made by men who confront the
of talent would have appeared who might have problems of social progress and try to solve them
given a different style to the historic struggle; but in accordance with the historical conditions of
the general trend engendered by the particular their epoch. They set their tasks in conformity
social relations would have remained the same. with the given conditions of their times. The
closer the correspondence between a man's
Without Rizal there may have been a perception of reality and reality itself, the greater
delay in the maturation of our libertarian the man. The deeper his commitment to the
struggle, but the economic development of the people's cause in his own time as evidence by his
period would have insured the same result. Rizal life and deeds. Hence, for a deeper
maybe accelerated it. Rizal may have given form understanding and a more precise evaluation of
and articulation and color to the aspirations of Rizal as Filipino and as hero, we must examine at
the people. But even without him, the nationalist some length the period during which Rizal lived.
struggle would have ensued. This is likewise true
in the case of present-day national liberation
movements. The fundamental cause of mass Innovation and Change
action is not the utterances of a leader; rather,
these leaders have been impelled to action by Rizal lived in a period of great economic
historical forces unleashed by social changes. These were inevitably accompanied by
development. We must therefore not fall into the cultural and political ferment. The country was
error of projecting the role of the individual to the undergoing grave and deep alterations which
extent of denying the play of these forces as well resulted in a national awakening. The English
as the creative energies of the people who are occupation of the country, the end of the galleon
the true makers of their own history. trade, and the Latin-American revolutions of that
time were all factors which led to an economic
Because Rizal had certain qualities, he re-thinking by liberal Spanish officials. The
was able to serve the pressing social needs of the establishment of non-Hispanic commercial houses
period, needs that arose out of general and broke the insular belt that had circumscribed
particular historical forces. He is a hero in the Philippine life for almost two centuries and a half.
sense that he was able to see the problems The middle of the 19th century saw 51 shipping
generated by historical forces, discern the new and commercial houses in Manila, 12 of which
social needs created by the historical were American and non-Hispanic European.

4
These non-Spanish houses practically affluence opening for themselves and their class.
monopolized the import-export trade. The They attained a new consciousness and hence, a
opening of the ports of Sual, Cebu, Zamboanga, new goal - that of equality with the peninsulares
Legaspi and Tacloban, all during the second half - not in the abstract, but in practical economic
of the 19th century, enabled these non-Spanish and political terms. Hispanization became the
interests to establish branches beyond the capital conscious manifestation of economic struggle, of
city, thus further increasing cosmopolitan the desire to realize the potentialities offered by
penetration. [5] the period of expansion and progress.
Hispanization and assimilation constituted the
European and American financing were ideological expression of the economic
vital agents in the emerging export economy. motivations of affluent indios and mestizos.
Merchants gave crop advances to indio and Equality with the Spaniard meant equality of
Chinese-mestizo cultivators, resulting in opportunity. But they did not realize as yet that
increased surpluses of agricultural export real equality must be based on national freedom
products. The Chinese received loans for the and independence. The were still in the initial
distribution of European goods and the collection phases of nationalist consciousness - a
of Philippine produce for shipment abroad. Abaca consciousness made possible by the market
and sugar became prime exports during this situation of the time. The lordly friar who had
period as a result of these European and been partly responsible for the isolation of the
American entrepreneurial activities. The islands became the target of attacks. Anti-
Transformation of the sugar industry due to clericalism became the ideological style of the
financing and the in- [p.133] troduction of period. [p. 134]
steam-powered milling equipment increased
sugar production from 3,000 piculs in mid-19th These then were the salient economic and
century to nearly 2,000,000 piculs in four ideological features of Rizal's time. A true
decades. [6] historical review would prove that great men are
those who read the time and have a deeper
These economic developments inevitably understanding of reality. It is their insights that
led to improvement in communications. The make them conversant with their periods and
infra-structure program of the Spanish which enable them to articulate the needs of the
government resulted in a moderately functional people. To a large extent, Rizal, the ilustrado,
road system. The third quarter of the century fulfilled this function, for in voicing the goals of
saw the opening of railroad lines. The steamship his class he had to include the aspirations of the
effected both internal and external linkages, entire people. Though the aims of this class were
postal services improved, the telegraph was limited to reformist measures, he expressed its
inaugurated in 1873, and by 1880, we were demands in terms of human liberty and human
connected with the world by a submarine cable to dignity and thus encompassed the wider
Hong Kong. Manila's water system was aspirations of all the people. This is not to say
modernized in 1870; we had street cars in 1881 that he was conscious that these were class
and telephone and electric lights in the goals; rather, that typical of his class, he equated
metropolitan region during the same period. class interest with people's welfare. He did this in
Material progress set the stage for cultural and good faith, unaware of any basic contradictions
social changes, among them the cultivation of between the two. He was the product of his
cosmopolitan attitudes and heightened opposition society and as such could be expected to voice
to clerical control. Liberalism had invaded the only those aims that were within the competence
country as a result of the reduction of the Spain- of his class. Moreover, social contradictions had
Manila voyage to thirty days after the opening of not ripened sufficiently in his time to reveal
the Suez canal. The mestizo that developed clearly the essential disparateness between class
became the crude ideological framework of the and national goals. Neither could he have
ferment among the affluent indios and mestizos. transcended his class limitations, for his cultural
[7] upbringing was such that affection for Spain and
Spanish civilization precluded the idea of
breaking the chains of colonialism. He had to
The Ideological Framework become a Spaniard first before becoming a
Filipino. [8]
Economic prosperity spawned discontent
when the native beneficiaries saw a new world of
5
As a social commentator, as the exposer term Filipino not just as a matter of historical
of oppression, he performed a remarkable task. information but so that we may realize the
His writings were part of the tradition of protest importance of Rizal's contribution in this regard.
which blossomed into revolution, into a separatist Even more valuable are the insights we may gain
movement. His original aim of elevating the indio into the inter-dependence between material
to the level of Hispanization of the peninsular so conditions and consciousness as manifested in
that the country could be assimilated, could the evolution of the word Filipino in terms of its
become a province of Spain, was transformed widening applicability and deeper significance
into its opposite. Instead of making the Filipinos through succeeding periods of our history.
closer to Spain, the propaganda gave root to
separation. The drive for Hispanization was It is important to bear in mind that the
transformed into the development of a distinct term Filipino originally referred to the creoles -
national consciousness. the Spaniards born in the Philippines - the
Españoles-Filipinos or Filipinos, for short. The
Rizal contributed much to the growth of natives were called indios. Spanish mestizos who
this national consciousness. It was a contribution could pass off for white claimed to be creoles and
not only in terms of propaganda but in something therefore Filipinos. Towards the last quarter of
positive that the present generation of Filipinos the 19th century, Hispanized and urbanized
will owe to him and for which they will honor him indios along with Spanish mestizos and sangley
by completing the task which he so nobly began. [Chinese - rly] mestizos began to call themselves
He may have had a different and limited goal at Filipinos, especially after the abolition of the
the time, a goal that for us is already passe, tribute lists in the 1880s and the economic [p.
something we take for granted. However, for 136] growth of the period.
[p.135] his time this limited goal was already a
big step in the right direction. This contribution We must also correct the common
was in the realm of Filipino nationhood - the impression that the Filipinos who were in Spain
winning of our name as a race, the recognition of during the Propaganda Period were all indios. In
our people as one, and the elevation of the indio fact, the original Circulo Hispano-Filipino was
into Filipino. dominated by creoles and peninsulares. The
Filipino community in Spain during the 1880's
was a conglomerate of creoles, Spanish mestizos
The Concept of Filipino Nationhood and sons of urbanized indios and Chinese
mestizos. [9]
This was a victory in the realm of
consciousness, a victory in a racial sense. This community came out with an organ
However, it was only a partial gain, for Rizal called España en Filipinas which sought to take
repudiated real de-colonization. Beguiled by the the place of th earlier Revista Circulo Hispano
new colonizer, most Filipinos followed the Filipino founded by another creole Juan Atayde.
example of Rizal. As a consequence, the España en Filipinas was mainly an undertaking of
development of the concept of national Spanish and Spanish mestizos. The only non-
consciousness stopped short of real de- Spaniard in the staff was Baldomero Roxas. Its
colonization and we have not yet distinguished first issue came out in 1887. It was "moderate" in
the true Filipino from the incipient Filipino. tone and failed to win the sympathy of the native
elements. In a letter to Rizal, Lopez-Jaena
The concept of Filipino nationhood is an criticized it in these words:
important tool of analysis as well as a conceptual
weapon of struggle. There are many Filipinos who From day to day I am becoming
do not realize they are Fiipinos only in the old convinced that our countrymen, the mestizos,
cultural, racial sense. They are not aware of the far from working for the common welfare, follow
term Filipino as a developing concept. Much less the policy of their predecessors, the Azcarragas.
are they aware that today social conditions [10]
demand that the true Filipino be one who is
consciously striving for de-colonization and Lopez-Jaena was referring to the
independence. Azcarraga brothers who had held important
positions in the Philippines and in Spain, but who,
Perhaps it would be useful at this point to though they had been born here, showed more
discuss in some detail the metamorphosis of the sympathy for the peninsulares. It is fortunate
6
that a street wich was once named for one of the users of the term were themselves limited
them has become Claro M. Recto today. Filipinos based on education and property. Since
this term was applied to those who spoke in the
Differences between the creoles and the name of the people but were not really of the
"genuine" Filipinos as they called themselves, people, the next stage for this growing concept
soon set in. It was at this time that Rizal and should be the recognition of the masses as the
other indios in Paris began to use the term indios real nation and their transformation into real
bravos, thus "transforming an epithet into a Filipinos. However, the Filipino of today must
badge of honor." The cleavage in the Filipino undergo a process of de-colonization before he
colony abroad ushered in a new period of the can become a true Filipino. The de-colonized
Propaganda which may be said to have had its Filipino is the real goal for our time just as the
formal beginning with the birth of La Solidaridad. Hispanized Filipino was once the goal of the
Its leaders were indios. The editor was not a reformists.
creole like Lete or a Spanish mestizo like Llorente
but Lopez-Jaena and later Marcelo H. del Pilar. La Though Rizal was able to win for his
Solidaridad espoused the cause of liberalism and countrymen the name Filipino, it was still as
fought for democratic solutions to the problems ilustrado that he conceived of this term. As
that beset the Spanish colonies. ilustrado he was speaking in behalf of all the
indios though he was separated by culture and
From the declaration of aims and policies even by property from the masses. His ilustrado
the class basis of the Propaganda is quite orientation manifests itself in his novels. [p. 138]
obvious. The reformists could not [p. 137] shake Though they are supposed to represent 19th
off their Spanish orientation. They wanted century Philippine society in microcosm, all the
accommodation within the ruling system. Rizal's principal characters belonged to the principalia.
own reformism is evident in this excerpt from his His hero, Ibarra, was a Spanish mestizo. The
letter to Blumentritt: Spaniards, the creole, the mestizo, and the
wealthy Chinese - these were characters he could
….under the present circumstances, we portray with mastery because they were within
do not want separation from Spain. All that we his milieu and class. But there are only very hazy
ask is greater attention, better education, description of characters who belonged to the
better government employees, one or two masses. His class position, his upbringing, and
representatives and greater security for our his foreign education were profound influences
persons and property. Spain could always win which constituted a limitation on his
the appreciation of the Filipinos if she were only understanding of his countrymen.
reasonable! [11]
Rizal, therefore, was an ilustrado hero
The indios led by Rizal gained whose life's mission corresponded in a general
acceptability as Filipinos because the proved their way to the wishes and aspirations of the people.
equality with the Spaniards in terms of both He died for his people, yet his repudiation of the
culture and property. This was an important Revolution was an act against the people. There
stage in our appropriation of the term Filipino. seems to be a contradiction between the two
Rizal's intellectual excellence paved the way for acts; there is actually none. Both acts were in
the winning of the name for the natives of the character; Rizal was acting from patriotic motives
land. It was an unconscious struggle which led to in both instances.
a conscious recognition of the pejorative meaning
of indio. Thus, the winning of the term Filipino He condemned the Revolution because as
was an anti-colonial victory for it signified the an ilustrado he instinctively underestimated the
recognition of racial equality between Spaniards power and the talents of the people. He believed
and Filipinos. in freedom not so much as a national right but as
something to be deserved, like a medal for good
behavior. Moreover, he did not equate liberty with
The "Limited" Filipinos independence. Since his idea of liberty was
essentially the demand for those rights which the
elite needed in order to prosper economically.
But the appropriation of this term was not
Rizal did not consider political independence as a
the end of the historic struggle for national
prerequisite to freedom. Fearful of the violence of
identity. While for Rizal's time this was a signal
people's action, he did not want us to fight for
victory, it was in truth a limited victory for us. For
7
our independence. Rather, he wanted us to wait of Rizal's manifesto of December 15, 1896 which
for the time when Spain, acting in her own best states:
interests, would abandon us. He expressed
himself clearly on these points in the following …..I am one most anxious for liberties in
passage from a letter which he wrote in his cell our country and I am still desirous of them. But
on December 12, 1896, for the use of his defense I placed as a prior condition the education of
counsel. the people that by means of instruction and
industry our country may have an individuality
….. many have have interpreted my of its own and make itself worthy of these
phrase to have liberties as to have liberties. [14]
independence, which are two different things.
A people can be free without being The authors of this book then make the
independent, and a people can be independent following comment:
without being free. I have always desired
liberties for the Philippines and I have said so. Rizal intentionally avoided the use of the
Others who testify that I said independence term independence, perhaps because he
either have put the cart before the horse or honestly believed that independence in its true,
they lie. [12] real, and strict sense should not be granted us
until we were educated enough to appreciate its
He had expressed much the same opinion importance, and its blessings, and until we were
earlier in his El Fili- [p.139] busterismo when economically self-reliant. [15] [p. 140]
Father Florentino said:
This statement not only supports the
I do not mean to say that our liberty will American line but is also an example of how our
be secured at the sword's point, for the sword admiration for Rizal may be used to beguile us
plays but little part in modern affairs, but that into accepting reactionary beliefs, the products of
we must secure it by making ourselves worthy colonial mentality.
of it, by exalting the intelligence and the dignity
of the individual, by loving justice, right and A people have every right to be free.
greatness, even to the extent of dying for them Tutelage in the art of government as an excuse
- and when a people reaches that height God for colonialism is a discredited alibi. People learn
will provide a weapon, the idols will be and educate themselves in the process of
shattered, the tyranny will crumble like a house struggling for freedom and liberty. They attain
of cards and liberty will shine out like the first their highest potential only when they are
dawn. 13 masters of their own destiny. Colonialism is the
only agency still trying to sell the idea that
Yet the people revered him because, freedom is a diploma to be granted by a superior
though he was not with them, he died for certain people to an inferior one after years of
principles which they believed in. He was their apprenticeship.
martyr; they recognized his labors although they
knew that he was already behind them in their
forward march. The Precursors of Mendicancy

In line with their avowed policy of In a way, Rizal's generation is no different


preparing us for eventual self-government, the from the generation that was engaged in our
Americans projected Rizal as the model of an independence campaigns. Neither was his
educated citizen. His name was invoked generation much different from those who today
whenever the incapacity of the masses for self- say they stand for independence but do not want
government was pointed out as a justification for to hurt the feelings of the Americans. In a way,
American tutelage. Rizal's preoccupation with Rizal and his generation were the precursors of
education served to further the impression that the present-day mendicants. It may be shocking
the majority of the Filipinos were unlettered and to say that Rizal was one of the practitioners of a
therefore needed tutelage before they could be mendicant policy, but the fact is that the
ready for independence. A book, Rizal, Educator propagandists, in working for certain reforms,
and Economist, used in certain Philippine chose Spain as the arena of their struggle instead
schools, supports this thesis by quoting a portion of working among their own people, educating
them and learning from them, helping them to
8
realize their own condition and articulating their dispense justice and reforms. The ilustrado
aspirations. This reflects the bifurcation between Filipino was now being surpassed by the indio in
the educated and the masses. revolutionary ardor. The indio had a more
legitimate claim to the title of Filipino because he
The elite had a sub-conscious disrespect was truly liberating himself. The revolutionary
for the ability of the people to articulate their own masses proclaimed their separatist goal through
demands and to move on their own. They felt the Katipunan. Faced with the popular
that education gave them the right to speak for determination, the ilustrados joined the
the people. They proposed an elitist form of Revolution where, despite their revolutionary
leadership, all the while believing that what the rhetoric, they revealed by their behavior their
elite leadership decided was what the people own limited goals.
would and should follow. They failed to realize
that at critical moments of history the people Though their fight was reformist and may
decide on their own, what they want and what be regarded as tame today, the historic role of
they want to do. Today, the ilustrados are the ilustrados cannot be denied for they were
shocked by the spate of rallies and purveyors of ideas which when seized upon by
demonstrations. They cannot seem to accept the the masses became real weapons. Today their
fact that peasants and workers and the youth ideas are orthodox and safe. However, the same
have moved without waiting for their word. They concepts when made relevant to present society
are not accustomed to the people moving on again make their partisans the objects of
their own. [p. 141] persecution by contemporary reactionaries.

The ilustrados were the Hispanized sector The role and the contribution of Rizal, like
of our population, hence they tried to prove that that of the ilus- [p.142] trado class, must be
they were as Spanish as the peninsulares. They evaluated in the context of his particular reality
wanted to be called Filipinos in the creole sense: within the general reality of his time. Rizal was a
Filipino-Spaniards as Rizal called Ibarra. They are necessary moment in our evolution. But he was
no different from the modern-day mendicants only a moment, and while his validity for his time
who try to prove that they are Americanized, amounted to a heroism that is valid for all time,
meaning that they are Filipino-Americans. As a we cannot say that Rizal himself will be valid for
matter of fact, the ilustrados of the first all time and that Rizal's ideas should be the
propaganda movement utilized the same yardstick for all our aspirations. He provided the
techniques and adopted the same general model of a form of heroism that culminated in
attitude as the modern-day mendicants and martyrdom. He was a Filipino we can be proud of,
pseudo-nationalists, in so far as the colonizing a monument to the race despite all his
power was concerned. limitations. But we cannot make him out to be
the infallible determinant of our national goals, as
his blind idolators have been trying to do.
Ilustrados And Indios
We must see Rizal historically. Rizal
The contrast to the ilustrado approach should occupy his proper place in our pantheon of
was the Katipunan of Bonifacio. Bonifacio, not as great Filipinos. Though he is secure to be in our
Hispanized as the ilustrados, saw in people's hearts and memories as a hero, we must now
action the only road to liberation. The Katipunan, realize that he has no monopoly of patriotism; he
though of masonic and of European inspiration, is not the zenith of our greatness; neither are all
was people's movement based on confidence in his teachings of universal and contemporary
the people's capacity to act in its own behalf. The relevance and application. Just as a given social
early rebellions, spontaneous and sporadic, could system inevitably yields to new and higher forms
be termed movements, without consciousness. of social organization, so the individual hero in
Rizal and the propagandists were the history gives way to new and higher forms of
embodiment of a consciousness without a heroism. Each hero's contribution, however, are
movement. It was Bonifacio and the Katipunan not nullified thereby but assume their correct
that embodied the unity of revolutionary place in a particular stage of the people's
consciousness and revolutionary practice. development. Every nation is always discovering
or rediscovering heroes in the past or its present.
The indio as Filipino rose in arms while
the ilustrado was still waiting for Spain to
9
understand the means of our times. But it is
Blind Adoration useless speculation to try to divine what he would
now advocate.
Hero-worship, therefore, must be both
historical and critical. We must always be Unless we have an ulterior motive, there
conscious of the historical conditions and is really no need to extend Rizal's meaning so
circumstances that made an individual a hero, that he may have contemporary value. Many of
and we must always be ready to admit at what his social criticisms are still valid today because
point that hero's applicability ceases to be of certain aspects of our life are still carry-overs of
current value. To allow hero-worship to be the feudal and colonial society of his time. A true
uncritical and unhistorical is to distort the appreciation of Rizal would require that we study
meaning of the heroic individual's life, and to these social criticisms and take steps to eradicate
encourage a cult bereft of historical meaning - a the evils he decried.
cult of the individual shorn of his historical
significance. It is form without content, a fad that Part and parcel of the attempt to use Rizal
can be used for almost anything, because it is as an authority to defend the status quo is the
really nothing. We must view Rizal as an evolving desire of some quarters to expunge from the
personality within an evolving historical period. Rizalist legacy the so-called controversial aspects
That his martyrdom was tainted by his attacks on of his writings, particularly his views on the friars
our independist struggle is not a ground for and on religion. We have but to recall the
condemning him entirely. We must determine the resistance to the Rizal bill, [p. 144] the use of
factors - economic and cul- [p. 143] tural - that expurgated versions of the Noli Me Tangere and
made Rizal what he was. We must see in his life the El Filibusterismo, and objections to the
and in his works the evolution of the Filipino and readings of his other writings to realize that while
must realize that the period crowned by his death many would have us venerate Rizal, they would
is only a moment in the totality of our history. want us to venerate a homogenized version.

It is a reflection of our lack of creative In his time, the reformist Rizal was
thinking that we continue to invoke Rizal when undoubtedly a progressive force. In many areas
we discuss specific problems and present-day of our life today, his ideas could still be a force for
society. This is also a reflection of our intellectual salutary change. Yet the nature of the Rizal cult is
timidity, our reluctance to espouse new causes such that he is being transformed into an
unless we can find sanctions, however remote, in authority to sanction the status quo by a
Rizal. This tendency is fraught with dangers. confluence of blind adoration and widespread
ignorance of his most telling ideas.

Limitations of Rizal We have magnified Rizal's significance for


too long. It is time to examine his limitations and
We are living in an age of anti-colonial profit from his weaknesses just as we have
revolutions different in content from those of learned from the strength of his character and his
Rizal's period. Rizal could not have anticipated virtues. His weaknesses were the weaknesses of
the problems of today. He was not conversant his society. His wavering and his repudiation of
with economic tools of analysis that would mass action should be studied as a product of the
unravel the intricate techniques that today are society that nurtured him.
being used by outside forces to consign us to a
state of continued poverty. The revolutions of
today would be beyond the understanding of The Negation of Rizal
Rizal whose Castilian orientation necessarily
limited his horizon even for that period. He was Today, we need new heroes who can help
capable of unraveling the myths that were woven us solve our pressing problems. We cannot rely
by the oppressors of his time, but he would have on Rizal alone. We must discard the belief that
been at a loss to see through the more we are incapable of producing the heroes of our
sophisticated myths and to recognize the subtle epoch, that heroes are exceptional beings,
techniques of present-day colonialists, given the accidents of history who stand above the masses
state of his knowledge and experience at that and apart from them. The true hero is one with
time. This is not to say that were he alive today the masses: he does not exist above them. In
and subject to modern experiences, he would not fact, a whole people can be heroes given the
10
proper motivation and articulation of their 10 Graciano Lopez-Jaena. "Letter to Rizal, March
dreams. 16, 1887," Rizal's Correspondence with
Fellow Reformists, Vol. II, Book II (Manila:
Today we see the unfolding of the creative National Heroes Commission, 1963), p. 103.
energies of a people who are beginning to grasp
the possibilities of human development and who 11 The Rizal-Blumentritt Correspondence,
are trying to formulate a theoretical framework Part 1: 1886-1889, Vol. II, January 26, 1887, p.
upon which they may base their practice. The 44.
inarticulate are now making history while the the
articulate may be headed for historical 12 Rizal, "Data for my Defense," Political and
anonymity, if not ignominy. When the goals of the Historical Writings, p. 340
people are finally achieved, Rizal the first Filipino,
will be negated by the true Filipino by whom he 13 Rizal, The Reign of Greed, translated by
will be remembered as a great catalyzer in the Charles Derbyshire (Manila: Philippine Education
metamorphosis of the de-colonized indio. [p. Company, 1956), p. 360.
145]
_______________
14 Rizal, "Manifesto, December 15, 1896,"
Political and Historical Writings, p. 348.
* Third National Rizal Lecture, December 30,
1969.
15 Hernandez, Ella, Ocampo. Rizal, Educator
and Economist, (Manila, 1949), p. 94 [p. 191]
1 The full text of the manifesto may be found in
Jose Rizal, Political and Historical Writings.
Vol VII (Manila: National Heroes Commission,
1964), p. 348.

2 Theodore Friend, Between Two Empires


(New Haven and New York: Houghton Mifflin
Company, 1928), p. 15.

3 W. Cameron Forbes. The Philippine Islands


(Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin
Company, 1928), p. 55

4 Ibid. p. 53

5 See Robert R. Reed, Hispanic Urbanism in


the Philippines: A Study of the Impact of
Church and State (Manila: The University of
Manila, 1967), Chapter VIII.

6 Ibid, p. 125

7 For a discussion of cultural and social context of


the period, see Edgar Wickberg, The Chinese in
Philippine Life, 1850-1898 (New Haven and
London: Yale University Press, 1965), pp. 131-
134

8 A fuller discussion of the developing concept of


the true Filipino may be found in my book, The
Making of a Filipino (Quezon city: Malaya
Books, 1969), Chapter 1. [p. 190]

9 Ibid., see also my essay, "The Filipino Elite,"


found in part two of this book.
11

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